Each year every local authority is required by law to make up its accounts and get an auditor to sign off on them. Members of the public have certain rights during the period when the accounts are being audited to inspect the accounts, question what they see and raise objections.
Who can inspect a local authority’s accounts?
Any interested person (you don’t have to be a resident) may inspect the accounts. You can also inspect any documents that are relevant to items included in the accounts. You can ask someone else to go with you, or ask someone to represent you and inspect the accounts for you.
When can I inspect my council’s accounts?
A council must advertise the period for exercise of public rights on its website. The period lasts 30 working days and usually occurs in June, July or August. The 30 day period must include a common period of inspection during which all councils’ accounts are available to inspect. This will be 1st-14th July 2016 for the 2015-16 accounts.
What can I inspect?
You have the right to inspect:
- the accounts to be audited
- all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to the accounts of that financial year.
How do I inspect the accounts?
- View the unaudited Annual Statement of Accounts on the council’s website, if published. If it’s not published contact your council and ask them when you can see the draft accounts.
- Go to the council offices as indicated in the advertisement for the inspection period on the council’s website (you might want to give them a call in advance and let them know what you want to see). This is free of charge. You can make copies of the accounts and all related documents. The council may charge you for making copies.
- Ask the council to send you copies of documents. You might be charged for the copying and sending of documents.
What if my council has LOBO loans?
Search for any items in the accounts that refer to LOBO loans or to borrowing from private banks or the market.
Then, in relation to those items, try to obtain from the council the following documents:
- the loan agreements and loan instruments issued by the council
- advice notes from Treasury Management Advisors (TMAs)
- any other related documents such as stock transfer certificates and records of fees paid to brokers
Source: National Audit Office